JOSEPH AND PETER
In order to understand Peter’s appointment, in accordance with the principle Scripture interpreting Scripture, let us take a close look at Joseph’s appointment as the vizier of Egypt.
“And Pharaoh said to them: “Can we find such another man that is full of the spirit of God?” He said therefore to Joseph: “Seeing God has shown you all that you have said, can I find one wiser and one like unto you? You shall be over my house and at the commandment of your mouth all the people shall obey: only in the kingly throne will I be above you”.
And again Pharaoh said to Joseph: “Behold, I have appointed you over the whole land of Egypt”. And he took his ring from his own hand, and gave it into his hand: and he put upon him a robe of silk, and put a chain of gold about his neck. And he made him go up into his second chariot, the crier proclaiming that all should bow their knee before him, and that they should know he was made governor over the whole land of Egypt. And the king said to Joseph: “I am Pharaoh: without your commandment no man shall move hand or foot in all the land of Egypt”. And he turned his name, and called him Zaphenath-paneah” (Gen. 41:38–46).
What was the basis for Joseph’s royal appointment? It was a divine revelation in response to a question from the king. What about Peter? Was he not appointed steward based upon a divine revelation in response to a question of Jesus, the King of Israel? Joseph was given the sign of official authority, which in Egypt was the signet ring of Pharaoh. Peter received the keys of the kingdom, these being the corresponding sign of authority in Israel.
Pharaoh issued Joseph his second chariot, giving him the status, power, and means to travel throughout the land, governing and ruling the entire land. Joseph was given the charism of infallible interpretation from God and therefore the final word in legal and judicial matters by the king. “The king made him lord of his house, and ruler of all his possessions, to instruct the princes at his pleasure, and to teach his elders wisdom” (Ps. 104:21–22). Peter’s power to “bind” and “loose” in the visible Church on earth was ratified by the King Himself in heaven. Peter was appointed shepherd to feed (care for, teach) the sheep and to tend (govern, rule) the lambs (Jn 21:15–17) in a universal or Catholic sense.
As soon as Joseph was appointed vizier of Egypt, Pharaoh changed his name to Zaphenath-paneah (which means either “God has spoken and He shall live” or “Savior of the world”). Simon’s name was changed to Peter (“Rock”) by Christ the King to signify a change of status- from fisherman to royal steward—a new calling, a commission. Wherever Joseph traveled, the crowd was asked to bow the knees. Catholics honor Peter with respect and obedience.
MOSES AND PETER
“On the morrow Moses sat to judge the people, and the people stood about Moses from morning till evening . . . And Moses said to his father-inlaw: “Because the people come to me to inquire of God; when they have a dispute, they come to me and I decide between a man and his neighbor, and I make them know the statutes of God and His decisions”” (Ex 18:13, 15–16). Moses was the official teacher of Israel—the lawgiver, interpreter and judge (No Sola Scriptura therefore!). Moses also had a direct revelation from God while standing at a huge rock, Mount Sinai. Moses was also infallible in his teachings and his judgments.
The Church Fathers, those Christians closest to the apostles in time, culture, and theological background, clearly understood that Jesus promised to build the Church on Peter, as the following passages from St. Cyprian of Carthage show:
“On him [Peter] He builds the Church, and to him He gives the command to feed the sheep [John 21:17], and although He assigns a like power to all the apostles, yet He founded a single chair [cathedra], and He established by His own authority a source and an intrinsic reason for that unity. Indeed, the others were that also which Peter was [i.e., apostles], but a primacy is given to Peter, whereby it is made clear that there is but one Church and one chair. . . . If someone does not hold fast to this unity of Peter, can he imagine that he still holds the faith? If he [should] desert the chair of Peter upon whom the Church was built, can he still be confident that he is in the Church?” (The Unity of the Catholic Church 4; 1st edition [a.d. 251]).
“There is one God and one Christ, and one Church, and one chair founded on Peter by the word of the Lord. It is not possible to set up another altar or for there to be another priesthood besides that one altar and that one priesthood. Whoever has gathered elsewhere is scattering” (Letters 43:5 [a.d. 253]).